making local government more ethical

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Campaign Finance

Robert Wechsler

I don't normally deal with purely campaign finance issues, but this gambit is too good (or too bad) to pass by. The perpetrator of the gambit is our old friend Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ.

Robert Wechsler
What responsibility does a candidate have to check on those who make contributions to his or her campaign? Is there a greater responsibility when the candidate is running for a law enforcement position, from sheriff to D.A. to judge?

These questions were raised with respect to a situation in Dallas County, where the sheriff accepted large contributions from two convicted felons, according to...
Robert Wechsler
I hate to see people resign with statements such as this, as typical as they are:
    While I have been assured that I have violated no existing code, ordinance or statute, I cannot permit my integrity — and, by insinuation, Councilwoman Hermann’s — to be attacked.
Sadly, these are the words of a former Kansas City (MO) ethics commission member, according to an article in the...
Robert Wechsler
There's a good opinion piece by Austin American-Statesman columnist Jason Embry this week on the political use of ethics complaints. The instances of abuse of the ethics process is what has led many jurisdictions to prohibit any mention of filing an ethics complaint and to prohibit the filing of ethics complaints within sixty or so days of an election.

Robert Wechsler
A Poor Approach to Being Ethical
It's great when candidates talk up acting ethically. But it's going too far, and setting a bad precedent, when a candidate takes a lie-detector test in which he says that he never engaged in unethical activities in private- or public-sector work, as reported in the Moultrie (GA) Observer.

Robert Wechsler
You be the judge. According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a board member of a Georgia-based insurance company set up ten PACs in Alabama that together gave $120,000 — ten times the legal limit — to a candidate for Georgia insurance commissioner. A complaint was filed with the state ethics commission (not only is there a...